Once every four years, the Machinists Union comes together to examine its past and chart its future at the Grand Lodge Convention.
It’s the elected delegates from every corner of the United States and Canada, from every industry the IAM represents, who truly make the Machinists Union’s gears turn. These IAM Brothers and Sisters, more than 1,200 of them, are tasked with one of most sacred duties an IAM member can have—democratically decide the priorities and direction of the Machinists Union.
It begins today at the IAM’s 39th Grand Lodge Convention in Chicago.
For Katrina Coleman, a first-time delegate from TCU-IAM Local 1351 in Philadelphia, said she’s proud to represent her union Brothers and Sisters back home.
“I believe in the democratic process,” said Coleman. “This is how we make a difference in our union.”
For Alfredo Silva, an Organizer with District 160 in Washington state, Convention represents a chance to make positive change in the IAM.
“We have to change with the times,” said Silva. “I’m excited to see our union expand our reach into difference sectors.”
His friend and union brother, District 160 Business Representative Brandon Hemming, is excited to represent working men and women back home.
“I’m here to make the heartfelt, thoughtful decisions we need to make to keep our union moving forward,” said Hemming.
Delegates come to Chicago amidst challenging times for working men and women around the world.
Trade pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership threaten to further tilt the scales toward the wealthy and powerful. So-called right-to-work laws, backed by corporate giants and their political allies, are proliferating through the United States.
But working people are pushing back. The IAM and other unions are organizing new types of workers, minimum wages are rising throughout the country and working people are demanding paid leave laws.
George Mejia, a member of Chicago Automobile Mechanics Local 701, wants to be part of that push back.
“This is an opportunity to give back to my union,” said Mejia, who was selling raffle tickets to help offset the cost of Convention. “I want more working families to have what I have.”